Alpina Watches – Robust and Innovative
If you’re a fan of sports watches and chronographs, you’ll probably like Alpina watches. The company, founded in 1883, is one of Switzerland’s older watchmaking companies. Like a lot of firms, they found themselves in financial trouble in the 1970s as quartz models from Japan took over the market.
Thanks to new innovation and determined new owners, the company has come back strongly in the 21st century, making high quality, attractive timepieces. Alpina watches offer a nice mix of sporty and traditional styling, combined with good build quality and elaborate mechanical complications.
If you want something attractive, well made, and a bit unusual, you should definitely give these interesting watches some thought when shopping for a timepiece.
Read on for the full Alpina watches review.
Build quality is quite good, with water resistance to 300 meters on some models. Cases are high tech ceramic and stainless steel, and faces are protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Many of their models are also shock resistant and are resistant to magnetic fields. The company has long taken pride in the build quality of their timepieces and they continue to make rugged, well-built watches to this day.
The movements are either automatic mechanical or quartz electronic, depending on the model. Both movements are made in Switzerland, and while the company used to outsource some of their movements, they now make some of them in-house. They’re fond of mechanical complications, and a few of their limited edition models include a tourbillon, which can help offset the effects of gravity in keeping accurate time.
Alpina watches have long favored technical innovation and the company is considered to be the creators of the first sports watch, in 1938. Their Alpina 4 included four features that were quite remarkable for their time: antimagnetic movement, water resistance, shock resistance, and a tough, stainless steel case. The company continues to produce a number of models to this day that feature “4” in the name and all of them include those four attributes.
The styling of Alpina watches falls into two groups – traditionally styled watches that might not have looked out of place in the 1950s, and modern-looking sports models and chronographs. Some of their chronographs feature an inset dial at the 10 o’clock position; this is unique to this brand. Bracelets and straps are available in stainless steel, leather and rubber, depending on the model.
As these watches are high quality, precision mechanical timepieces, they will require occasional maintenance. You should have the watertight seals inspected every two years to ensure that the watch remains water resistant.
The company recommends that you have models with automatic movements serviced every four to five years. This involves returning the watch to the manufacturer or an authorized service center. The timepiece will be inspected, disassembled and cleaned, with worn parts being replaced. The watch will then be lubricated and tested for both timekeeping accuracy and water resistance.
When it’s returned to you, it should be as good as new. You should store your watch in a cool, dry place and away from strong magnetic fields and extremes of temperature. Ideally, you should store models with automatic movements in a watch winder to ensure that they continue to run and keep accurate time. With proper care, these should run well for many years, if not decades.
The warranty is the standard warranty offered by most luxury watchmakers – your purchase is warranted against defects in materials and craftsmanship for two years from the date of purchase. This is a typical warranty; we estimate that 90% of all watchmakers offer a two year guarantee on their products.
Prices range from moderate to very expensive. They have more than 100 models in their product line and the prices range from about $800 at the low end to about $60,000 at the high end. The company makes a number of limited edition models, with some produced in quantities of just a few hundred units.
Lower end models tend to have quartz movements, while the models with elaborate mechanical complications or a tourbillon will be priced at the higher end of the price range. Collectors aren’t quite on board with the brand yet, so older models and out of production models aren’t really showing strongly in the secondary market.
That could change; the company is making a strong effort to re-establish their brand, and in years to come there could be a lot of interest in the brand once people realize that the company is again making interesting, high quality products.
Like many luxury products, the pricing and distribution is strictly controlled by the manufacturer in order to keep demand ahead of supply and to maintain a rigid pricing structure. Alpina watches are not available from the company Website, but only through authorized dealers, which are generally high end jeweler shops located in major cities around the world.
Unofficially, you can find them offered for sale by a number of Internet retailers, which provides your best opportunity to buy at a discount. The product line is rather large, so don’t be surprised if you don’t find a retailer that includes everything the company makes, especially since many models are limited editions. Still, most retailers should have a good representative sample.
After suffering greatly from the quartz revolution of the 1970s, Alpina watches have recovered nicely through new ownership. The company remains dedicated to making interesting, attractive timepieces that include striking looks and innovative features.
Their sports watches are legendary, but they also make attractive timepieces that are suitable for business wear or a nice evening out. They make a lot of limited edition models, so there’s a good chance that the timepiece you buy today isn’t going to be one that all of your friends are wearing.
Their price range is broad, so a large number of people should find them both interesting and affordable. If you want good quality in a Swiss watch, we think it’s hard to go wrong with Alpina watches.